It's safe to say the Philadelphia Union's start to the season hasn't exactly gone as planned.
Picking up their first win in three tries could prove all the more difficult without captain Danny Califf.
Califf won't play Saturday night when Philadelphia visits the Chicago Fire, who look to win their home opener for the fifth time in six seasons.
Union coach Peter Nowak created a stir when he held Califf out of Sunday's 2-1 loss to Colorado, claiming his star player wasn't 100 percent. Califf, who underwent offseason knee surgery, started Philadelphia's season-opening 3-1 defeat at Portland and was taken aback when learning of Nowak's decision.
Nowak and Califf, however, appear to have put aside their differences - at least for the time being.
"I think we'll find a good formula to assess the whole thing with our trainers, with our strength and conditioning coach, and we'll try to prepare Danny for another 32 weeks," Nowak said. "I think right now he understands the whole concept of that and it shouldn't be a problem going forward."
Califf is hoping to return March 31 against Vancouver.
"We're just going on the trajectory that we want to get (me) fit and strong," he told the team's official website. "So we're taking the week leading up (to the game against Vancouver) and this weekend heading into next week to try and achieve that. Overall just getting fitter and stronger (is the goal)."
With Califf unavailable, fellow defenseman Carlos Valdes knows slowing down Chicago (0-0-1) won't be easy.
"They are a good team, they are good players. (Dominic) Oduro, (Marco) Pappa, they are fast so we gotta make sure we get good pressure on them," Valdes said. "We (need to) work together as a group to tighten the space on the field. The game will be a difficult game for us."
The Fire opened their season with a 1-all draw at Montreal last Saturday. Oduro, who led the team with 12 goals last season, tied the game in the 71st minute.
"It was great for him to start off the season with a goal for his confidence. He worked hard for it," coach Frank Klopas told the league's official website. "But we all worked hard. Even the guys who came off the bench played hard."
Pappa has a chance to become the first player in MLS history to score in four straight home openers with the same team.
While the Fire have lost both road matchups with the Union over the last two seasons, they are 1-0-1 in the series at home. Chicago won 2-1 at Toyota Park on June 5, 2010, before the teams played to a 1-all tie Aug. 3.
The Union will also be without defender Sheanon Williams and midfielders Freddy Adu and Amobi Okugo, who are with the U.S. Under-23 team for Olympic qualifying.